Stephanie Hill: A ‘smoothie’ start to your morning can boost health all day

February 28, 2019 GMT

“In life, much like smoothies, you get out what you put in.” — Bolthouse Farms

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” — Hippocrates

Life is busy. It seems that many of us, me included, are feeling time-crunched. Between the demands of work; juggling time to work out; plan/prep/cook meals; parent kids; carpool to and from school and/or sports activities; caring for a loved one, such as a parent or spouse; and so forth, it often feels as if there are not enough hours in the day. You want to eat healthy, but you don’t always have the time to prepare three meals per day.

Before you throw in the towel and buy another box of toaster pastries, run through the nearest fast-food eatery, or dart into the neighborhood convenience store, consider making a smoothie for at least one of your meals. I personally suggest a breakfast smoothie. Just as the Dalai Lama is often credited with saying, “Just one small positive thought in the morning can change your whole day,” adding a protein breakfast smoothie to your morning routine can be one small positive step toward better health. You can even make it the night before if you want.

A protein shake for breakfast has numerous benefits. They are usually quick, portable, cost effective; and, if made correctly, can be highly nutritious.

Additionally, health blogs, nutritional websites and other literature often link consuming a high-protein breakfast to appetite reduction for several hours as it suppresses ghrelin, a hormone linked to hunger. This, in turn, reduces the sugary, high-carb cravings that often hit mid-morning. However, if these reasons aren’t enough for you, read on.

Protein requires more effort for the body to burn; thus, about 20-30 percent of protein calories are burned while the body is digesting and metabolizing protein as compared to 5-10 percent for carbs and 0-3 percent for fats and alcohol. Additionally, high protein intake can help you burn anywhere from 80 to 100 more calories per day, and some studies suggest an even higher number.

Furthermore, protein can help prevent muscles loss and keep your metabolism humming, especially when combined with an exercise program that includes strength training at least two days per week - and, yes, body-weight bearing exercises such as push ups, squats, and planks count! This is especially important as we age. In fact, I was shocked to learn that my protein intake need has actually increased because of my age!

I personally love the notion of a green smoothie. For one, what’s not to love about the color green? In my mind, green is the color of nature, earth, and all of the Divine goodness contained therein. A simple way to make a green smoothie is by simply adding a teaspoon of matcha green tea powder to your favorite vanilla protein scoop/packet. Place both the matcha powder and protein into a dry shaker cup, add 8 ounces of water, milk, or nondairy “milk” beverage, and your engine is revved up for a highly focused and productive morning.

Why matcha? There are numerous reasons to incorporate matcha into your morning smoothie. It’s loaded with a plant compound called catechins, which is a natural antioxidant known for reducing cell damage and preventing chronic disease. Because it contains both caffeine and L-theanine, it has also been shown to increase memory, focus, and reaction time without the jitters often linked to coffee consumption. Furthermore, studies have shown that green and matcha tea may protect the heart and liver, prevent cancer, and increase metabolism.

With all of this talk about the power of a morning protein smoothie, it is worth mentioning that a smoothie does not mean milkshake! To ensure your morning smoothie habit doesn’t derail you, check the quality of your protein powder and limit what you add to your protein. Mixed plant-based protein, for me, is my preferred choice as it is easier on my system to digest. However, there are many other quality proteins, depending upon your dietary practices/preferences, such as whey, collagen, and egg white powder to name a few. One quality brand many of my friends successfully use is Optavia. One quick look on Facebook can put you in touch with a local Optavia Health Coach to guide you. However, there are many other quality brands out there as one visit to your local health food market or online search can reveal. Just make sure your chosen protein does not have added sugars, carbs, and additives that you cannot pronounce.

I’ve included three ways to create a healthy green, protein smoothie. This is just a scaffolding that can be adjusted to fit your tastes, dietary needs, and preferences. The two most important ingredients are a quality protein powder and eight or so ounces of water, milk, or plant-based, non-dairy alternative. On rushed evenings or mornings, I often toss protein powder and matcha into a shaker cup that I can simply add water to in the morning. When I have more time, I add other ingredients to increase the nutritional value. The most important thing, regardless, is to take that one small, positive action. Typically, one good decision leads to another, which can only increase your level of health and vigor in spite of a busy schedule!

From my home to yours, I wish you healthy, happy, homemade meals - and, of course, smoothies!

Green Protein Smoothie - 3 Ways

Main ingredients:

1 serving quality protein powder

1 teaspoon organic matcha green tea powder (Make sure it had nothing else added to it as matcha by itself, like all tea, has zero calories, carbs, fats, and so forth!)

8 or so ounces of your favorite liquid, such as water, milk, or nondairy “milk”

Optional ingredients:

1 cup (85 grams) riced cauliflower, or fresh spinach or other greens

1 teaspoon supplement greens powder (I like Amazing Grass Organic Supergreens Powder.) 1-teaspoon chia seeds

1 teaspoon ground flax seeds

1 packet of stevia or other favorite sweetener

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Dash or twist of pink Himalayan sea salt

Simple Green Smoothie:

1 packet or scoop vanilla protein powder, such as Optavia Creamy Vanilla Shake

1 teaspoon matcha powder

8 ounces water

Place protein powder and matcha into shaker cup. Add filtered/bottled water and drink!

How easy is that?

You can even make it with hot water, and drink it like a green tea latte, but without all the added sugar!

Cauliflower Green Smoothie

1 cup (85 grams) riced cauliflower 1 scoop/packet vanilla protein

1 teaspoon matcha powder

Any additional add-ins from above optional ingredients list 8 ounces, give or take, favorite beverage

Blend well in blender.

Drink immediately, or store in fridge for later consumption

Spinach Green Smoothie

1 cup (85 grams) fresh spinach or other greens

1 scoop/packet vanilla protein

1 teaspoon matcha powder

Any additional add-ins from above optional ingredients list

8 ounces, give or take, favorite beverage

Blend well in blender.

Drink immediately, or store in fridge for later consumption

Stephanie Hill is a freelance writer and a teacher at St. Joseph Catholic School in Huntington. She is also a lifelong resident of Lawrence County. She can be reached at hill992@zoominternet.net. Or you can check out her website, stephsimply.com.